Do You Focus Too Much On Lack?

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I think we can all be guilty of this. When life isn’t quite going our way we focus on just that – that life is not going our way! What about what is going our way?

It’s become a bit of a cliché when it comes to happiness – be grateful and appreciate what you have in life – it goes over our head because we’ve heard it a million times and we stop applying it to our own lives.

But there’s great power in how you focus. There are times in life when everything is moving along perfectly and there are times when, well, it just isn’t. However, the way in which you step back and look at what is going on – the bigger picture – really can be the difference between feeling positive and just feeling crappy.

If your life is taking a turn or you are struggling to see how life is good try to steer away from focusing on the lack.

Our minds are naturally drawn to focus on lack and what we don’t currently have in our lives that we would like to have. If we want the perfect job but feel we don’t have it, we may focus on our current job and what’s wrong with it like the annoying boss and the boring work, but instead try and focus on what’s good about it. Maybe your commute is short and trouble-free, you have fun colleagues, the pay is enough to deal with your bills. The more you focus on the good things about a situation that’s less than ideal, the more you can cope with it.

Remember every situation is temporary and we’re continually moving forward. When we focus on the better things, our mind fights us and thinks we’re trying to accept a situation we hate and thinking about the negative aspects is somehow helping us, that focusing on what’s not there but wish was is somehow going to help us change the situation – but it’s not!

Focusing on the abundance rather than the lack isn’t about giving in. It isn’t about  just accepting the situation and desperately trying to be happy about it. It’s not about accepting it’ll never change; it’s about changing your inner thoughts which, in turn, will gradually change your level of happiness. It’s when you’re in this better state of happiness that you’ll be in a better state for moving forward and inspired action will present itself to you – that perfect job will suddenly appear in the strangest of ways!

So next time you find yourself focusing on something you don’t have like a relationship, perfect job, perfect house or enough money, try to change your thinking to that of abundance – the love of your friends and family, a job that pays the bills for now, a roof over your head (maybe a small one but a roof all the same!) and the money to buy you what you need.

Remember focusing on abundance is about putting that monkey mind at ease and allowing it to enter a more positive state that will go towards opening up paths to new opportunities that frustration, apathy and depression from focusing on lack can block.

So perhaps try noticing how much you focus on lack and change your perspective to that of abundance. Make it a conscious, consistent habit and start seeing the positive changes to your happiness 🙂

 

The Importance of Mindset In Your Journey To Happiness

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Happiness is subjective – it can mean different things to different people. What will make one person happy may not make another feel the same way.

However, there are certain universal habits we can all adopt that will help us along in the journey to our own unique happiness and one of them is mindset.

Life has its ups and downs and we are inevitably going to come across hurdles and challenges – this is the reality of life. But how we choose to look at these times in our life can add to, or take away from, our personal happiness.

Mindset affects our responses to a particular situation or can, for example, determine how much effort we put into something and the strategies we adopt. Since we all have goals in life and situations we come across, mindset is particularly important in how we deal with life in general.

When it comes to our happiness, there are two types of mindset we can have – one is fixed mindset and the other is growth mindset.

Fixed Mindset – This kind of mindset damages our ability to experience happiness. A lot of us have it without even knowing and has been ingrained in us from a young age through the people around us.

A person with a fixed mindset believes everything is measurable and focuses on the goal outcome with an expectation of either success or failure with failure being the worst thing in the world. A person with a fixed mindset ignores the learning process, gets depressed and loses self-esteem easily becoming pessimistic (especially in the way they explain the world to themselves) if the outcome wasn’t as expected. They give up easily if a strategy or anything they set out to do didn’t work out for them.

Growth Mindset – This mindset is key to being much happier in our lives and for many is not a mindset we are overly familiar with.

A person with a growth mindset acknowledges that they will always learn from situations, hard times and challenges and be able to bounce back and be resilient. They believe that they are always growing and learning and that success in life (whatever that may be for you) is a continuous development of their skills. They reflect on strategies or situations and try alternatives if they didn’t work out. In essence, there’s no such thing as failure because it’s all about the journey, learning from mistakes and improving themselves.

 

So how do we adopt a growth mindset?

First of all realise you have a choice to change your mindset. It may not be an instant change but acknowledging you have the power to change your thinking, beliefs and perspectives is key to a happier mindset.

  1. Look out for your fixed mindset voice, it’ll say things like “What if you fail?”. We all have it somewhere – it’s pesky and undermining us!
  2. Recognise you have a choice to change it – we are all capable of changing and replacing thoughts to more positive ones (meditation is good for this!)
  3. Talk back to your fixed mindset with a growth mindset – the key to changing your fixed mindset is to challenge it: “are you sure you can do this?” “I’m not sure if I can do it now but with time and effort I can learn.”
  4. Act with your growth mindset and accept failure can happen and that it’s okay. It’s a process and a learning curve for growth – learn from setbacks and show yourself compassion.

Happiness is all in our mind and it’s our choice and our decision. It’s also subjective to each and every one of us but for everyone it’s important how we look at our journey to happiness. Bad things happen and it’s part of life, but we have a choice in how we look at them and interpret them.

Life can be challenging but with a growth mindset it’s about embracing your negative feelings and emotions but also not letting yourself dwell too much – understand that it’s an opportunity for growth rather than a setback.

Remember happiness is not luck, it’s a way of thinking 🙂

 

 

 

Why Making Comparisons Is Ruining Your Happiness

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How many times have you compared your life to those around you and felt that panic or overwhelming dissatisfaction for your present circumstances? You feel like you’re not at the stage you were meant to be or you’ve somehow fallen behind in life while they are exactly where you want to be.

I believe no one is alone in feeling this. With current social media exposing us to every nook and cranny of people’s lives, it’s hard not to notice and compare our journey to others.

But comparing ourselves to others hinders our happiness in so many ways.

Remember that everyone is potentially going through a battle we don’t know about. Don’t judge or compare your life to someone else’s seemingly ‘happy and perfect’ life because you don’t know what they are truly going through. They may have it all or have what you want to have but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are happy.

Don’t take social media at face value. People are extremely willing to put up the best bits of their life on social media especially Facebook or Instagram which gives the impression on the outside that this is the sum total of their life – happy and carefree. What you don’t know is the possible depression they are secretly battling with or their own dissatisfaction with life. This is why we can’t ever take social media at face value as we’re only seeing people’s highlight reels – it’s not a true representation of reality.

Always remember that our negative thoughts and feelings aren’t real. When you get these feelings when comparing yourself to others it’s kind of illogical – you can’t compare yourself to someone else because they are on a completely different path to you despite what you may think.

The comparison game never stops. The main reason we compare is because we are unhappy with our own lives. The key to combating comparison is to simply be more relaxed and happy with the way our lives are because even if you achieved the life others have, there will always be something else to be unhappy with.

Comparison just kills your focus and own happiness. Comparison is just a distraction from your own wonderful journey in life. So what if it’s not the same as hers or his? By focusing on others you aren’t focusing on yourself which is far more important.

See your unhappiness as a stop on your journey to happiness. Making comparisons are a sign of our own unhappiness. It happens to the best of us but just trust that this is where you’re meant to be in the present moment. Everyone is at different stages in both life and happiness and you are where you’re meant to be. Trust you will get where you need to be to be happy when it’s your time.

Finally, you don’t know what happiness means to other people. Just because being successful in your career is your definition of happiness doesn’t mean it is for someone else. Always keep this in mind when making assumptions of other people.

It’s so important to focus on your own happiness and stop being concerned with those around you. Yes, it’s not always easy to do, but taking steps to concentrate on the appreciation you have for your current life – no matter what stage you’re at –  will attract the things you want into your life and be happy with them.

Remember, your happiness is personal to you and no one else 🙂

Happiness Is Choosing How You Respond To Negative Thoughts

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We’ve all heard that it’s all about how we respond to a negative situation that determines how we deal with the outcome but what about our negative thoughts?

I wrote a post a while ago explaining why negative emotions are crucial to happiness. To live a happy and fulfilling life doesn’t mean you need to be positive and upbeat every minute of the day – we need negative emotions to help us work through difficult times and to show us where we may be focusing wrong.

It can be frustrating when you’re having a good period and all of a sudden your mood changes, someone says something offensive to you, something happens that makes you feel you’re back to square one again. It could even be something really serious like illness or suddenly losing your job.

But there’s a difference between negative emotions and negative thoughts. Negative emotions are our reactions to big events or situations – they are there to help us work through the tough times and come out the other side.

Negative thoughts are much more important when we consider our happiness and mental well-being. Our beliefs are a result of our thoughts and when it comes to the beliefs we have about ourselves or the world around us, we can have a whole plethora of negativity going on in our minds. The same negative thoughts can go round and round until we don’t even notice them – they become a negative belief and this is where it gets dangerous.

It’s these thought patterns that can stunt the growth of our happiness and a lot of the time we don’t even realise we have so many of them. We then give them permission to grow by allowing them to come back over and over again cementing the negative belief. So the answer must be to get rid of our negative thoughts, right?

Actually, no. Your goal isn’t to get rid of negative thoughts, it is changing your response to them.

We’ll never truly get rid of our negative thoughts so there’s no point putting unnecessary pressure on ourselves to rid them altogether.

Instead, when you next have a negative thought – either about yourself, someone else or a situation you face, just stop, acknowledge it and choose your response. You can either choose to change the thought and therefore react in a different way or choose to continue the negative thought until it affects your mood and even contribute to your core negative beliefs.

This is why meditation is so wonderful for teaching you how to notice your negative thoughts and giving you the space to do this. It teaches you to:

  1. Be more aware of your thoughts both negative and positive.
  2. Notice when a negative thought arises and don’t pass judgement on yourself or blame yourself for the thought. (remember self-compassion!)
  3. Acknowledge the negative thought and note it.

By getting into the habit of doing this, you’re gradually giving yourself the power to respond to these thoughts – whether that’s getting to the root cause or changing it to a more positive thought. After a while you will actually start to notice the negative thoughts start to fall away more easily and you will definitely notice a difference in your mindset.

So next time you have a negative thought, stop and acknowledge it. Ask yourself how this is contributing to your overall happiness and choose to take the power back 🙂

 

The Effects Of Sleep On Happiness

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Sleep is a necessary component to our happiness. Getting enough sleep can reduce stress and depression which in turn will reduce health problems and increase and optimise our ability to function during the day.

It’s not always easy getting enough sleep with the busyness of modern life and having to juggle work with other areas of our life. Stressful events can stop us from getting those forty winks and if this happens regularly it can take its toll on our waking life.

De-stressing your life will obviously have it’s benefits in the long run; exercising and meditation practice are a couple of things you can incorporate easily into your daily routine to promote a better night’s sleep.

And of course it’s not just the quantity of sleep but the quality is even more important. 8 hours of restless sleep is worse than a good, solid 6 hours sleep. So what can we do to help ourselves get this much-needed shut-eye and therefore increase our happiness levels and quality of life?

Exercise. This is probably the most obvious and effective ways to get a good night’s sleep. Having a regular exercise routine will expel our energy efficiently and prepare the body for a good and well-deserved rest through the night.

Eating habits. What we eat has a massive effect on how well we sleep. Eating a healthy, balanced diet with less sugar and bad fats will promote a better sleeping pattern.

Hydration. Drinking enough is crucial for the body to function properly at night. Being sufficiently hydrated will allow the brain to work at its optimum levels both during the day and night.

Meditation and yoga. Stress has a huge effect on the amount we sleep and the quality of that sleep. Trying relaxation methods such as mediation or yoga will lower blood pressure and ease the mind preparing you to drift off to sleep more easily.

Sleep is so essential to our overall happiness and well-being.  At the end of the day, a tired person is not a happy person. It has been found that people who don’t get enough quality sleep are more likely to have a high amount of reoccurring negative thoughts and people with adequate amounts of sleep rate themselves higher on the happiness scale.

So if you feel you’re not getting enough sleep then don’t scrimp on your 8 hours and make sure those 8 hours are as optimal as possible by making a few changes to your lifestyle if necessary and try to sleep yourself happy 🙂

5 Reasons Why Experiences Make Us Happier Than Possessions

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I’m not trying to shamelessly plug my Lifehack article – I promise! But since I was planning to write about this topic as a blog post I thought that it would make sense to publish it here too.

Money and possessions are a big fraud when it comes to happiness. We seem to always believe that the more money we have the more happy we become but loads of research has found that this isn’t the case. The money that we do have should be spent wisely but do we spend it wisely? We buy things that seemingly make us happy but do they? Or are there better things to spend our money on?

My article discusses the 5 reasons why spending money on experiences will make us happier than buying material things 🙂

Read the article here:

5 Reasons Why Experiences Make Us Happier Than Possessions

 

 

8 Ways To Create a Positive Day From Your Morning Routine

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We all know that starting the day on a positive note can set us up for a more positive day. But how often do we do this? How often do we intend to get up 15 minutes earlier but once that damn alarm goes off we reach out for that snooze button?

A lot of the time we can end up rushing too much in the mornings which can inadvertently cause us unneeded stress, anxiety and panic. But is this really necessary? Do we realise how much a structured morning routine can help us with our day and overall happiness? Don’t get me wrong, I know how hard it can be sometimes to get the strength to get out of bed especially if you’ve had an unrestful night sleep or you have trouble sleeping in general. But there’s a great power in getting up a little bit earlier.

1. Appreciate and enjoy your morning shower. We can enjoy a slightly longer shower that wakes us up better. It’s a small price to pay for getting out of bed earlier. If you’re really brave, then try a cold shower – many, many health benefits but in truth one of the worst yet most invigorating experiences I’ve had! (Not for the faint-hearted!)

2. Make time for a good breakfast. The act of not rushing around results in us being more mindful. We have more time to make a decent, healthy breakfast and actually savour it setting our body up with a good injection of fuel instead of grabbing the easiest or unhealthiest breakfast – or worst still, no breakfast at all 😮

3. Meditate. A great thing to do is actually meditate every morning. I started doing this about a year ago (no, I’m not a mediating guru – my mind wanders all over the place!). Now I’ve somehow managed to make it well and truly part of my routine – it clears my head, sets me up for the day and puts my brain into mindfulness mode which carries on throughout my day. I really noticed how much it changed my outlook and helped me cope with the day ahead.

4. Don’t expose yourself to negative news. Cut out listening to or reading the news. In an earlier post Is The News Having An Impact On Your Happiness? I talked about how listening to the news (which is primarily negative) can deplete your happiness. If the news is the first thing you immerse your mind in then perhaps stop. Read more positive news – you want to protect your positive vibe as much as possible.

5. Don’t check emails and social media. I’m sure most of us are guilty of this. You wake up and the first thing you check is Facebook, Twitter, WordPress 😉 or emails. I’m not saying to stop checking but try not to let this be the first thing you do when you wake up. At least try to reduce it. Facebook especially can sometimes be a downer which we don’t need first thing in the morning.

6. Spend time outside. If it’s a nice morning, spend time sitting out in the garden or porch. Maybe eat your breakfast out there. Go for a quick walk and just appreciate being out in the fresh air.

7. Exercise. The morning is a perfect time to do your exercise routine. It gets it out of the way and releases those endorphins that carry on all the way through the day. Whether it’s running, cycling, yoga or just going for a walk. It will do wonders for your outlook.

8. Be present with the people you live with. Some of us have kids to deal with in the mornings which can cause us to rush, get stressed or frustrated. Get up a bit earlier and allow yourself to enjoy the moments you have with them. With more time you can appreciate the little conversations you have with others instead of frustration-induced rushing. You’ll be more relaxed and create a much more positive atmosphere which will rub off on those around you.

Our morning routines are really so crucial for our happiness. Having that extra time in bed may seem like a good idea at the time but at what price? We are robbing ourselves of the opportunity to have mindful moments, chances to set up a proper structure to the rest of our day and ultimately screwing with our happiness levels. It might not seem like much but implementing a solid, relaxed routine will help you in many ways and increase happiness much more than you realise 🙂

Want To Be Happier? Be Less Busy!

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If you feel you need to be busy then stop and think about why that might be. There are times in our lives when we need to be busy – we can be juggling many responsibilities at once and most of them revolve around work, family and social life. We want to have a good balance to make our lives as happy as possible but are we actually creating this? Or are we diminishing our happiness in the process of being too busy?

We are living in a society where we are very distracted with phones, TV and internet but even as we’re distracted we’re trying constantly to focus. Now, focus can be a positive thing but not when it stops us from being mindful of our surroundings and ourselves. Busy-ness in essence is robbing us of our present moment. We all know that relaxing is a way of recharging our batteries and we should all do it but for some of us it comes with a price and that price is not getting things done, letting people down, the constant feeling of needing to be out seeing friends or picking up kids from here and there.

When we sit quietly and don’t think about anything or do anything, this can start to feel uncomfortable – that itching feeling that we need to be doing something or that voice in your head saying You can’t sit here doing nothing, you have a million things to do! and so the busy-ness ensues until we’re exhausted and worn down – never giving ourselves the chance to stop and simply do nothing.

But next time your little voice starts piping up remember this: magical things happen when you sit quietly and do nothing. When we take a break and stare into space our brain isn’t doing nothing – the unconscious part of our brain is much faster and smarter and processes information on a much higher level than our conscious mind. So taking breaks actually allows us to access a much more powerful part of our brain and gives this part of our brain a chance to work.

In an earlier blog post Simple Kindness Promotes Big Happiness I wrote about how kindness is important to our overall happiness. Studies have also shown that busy-ness reduces our ability to be kind to others. A Samaritan study was conducted at Princeton University campus where students were asked to help someone who seemed to be having cardiovascular problems  – for those that weren’t rushed to get to class, 60% stopped to help. For those that were a minute or two late for class, there was a 10% drop in the number of students that helped out – quite a decrease in kindness just by feeling a little bit busy.

Another important reason to stop and relax is to be aware of our feelings and emotions. Being busy tends to mask how we’re really feeling about something. We don’t even have time to process – as a result we can end up suppressing negative emotions that need tending to or just not appreciating and taking in any positive things that have happened in our day. Being aware of our emotions, positive and negative, are essential to our happiness and well-being.

It’s essential for our happiness to be mindful of what we do in our day. Is it really necessary to stay in bed for an extra 15 minutes and then create stress by rushing to get ready when we could have had a more relaxing morning routine? Is it necessary to always arrange plans after work so you have no down-time in the week? You could be missing out on a huge number of things because you’re busy rushing about – simple conversations, noticing what’s going on around you or just enjoying the present moment. Simple changes can bring a greater ease into your life. Try to find ways to alleviate the need to be busy – has it just become a way of life?

Approaching life in a more relaxed, mindful way is so important to our everyday happiness which in turn will benefit those around you. Cut out the unnecessary busy-ness and make sure that you take the time out to relax, recharge your brain and not worry about to-do lists – the world will keep on turning if you’re not doing something right this second and your happiness levels will thank you for it 🙂

 

Is The News Having An Impact On Your Happiness?

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We are constantly bombarded by the news, but of course we are because we need to know what’s going on in the world, right? The media has a huge impact on us. Most of us don’t have first-hand knowledge about events going on and so our knowledge is very dependant on the news and the media. It plays a huge role in how people think of the world and also themselves and it might just be affecting our everyday happiness.

Everyone knows that if we eat junk food every day we’ll become unhealthy. The same can be applied to the information we read and pay attention to in everyday news and media outlets. Traditional news has a huge emphasis on the negative and unfortunately the fact is that the majority of news needs tragedy and negativity to sell newspapers or make money. When I really thought about this I decided to test this out and open up the news app on my phone. Sure enough, there were 12 top stories and out of those 12 only 1 story was actually positive. Perhaps it was a particularly bad day? I don’t know.

We all know that journalism is about asking the questions but are journalists always asking the right questions? Questions that will produce a shocking or intriguing story will get the ‘better’ story and in that process we, the readers, don’t end up getting the true view. Now, I realise I’m generalising here – there are many newspapers and news outlets that try their best to keep a fair view but unfortunately the majority don’t do this and as people keeping up with local and world events, we are probably affected by this more than we realise.

There are a lot of bad things that happen in this world and it’s probably right that we should know about them, for example crime, war, injustice or famine but for our happiness to flourish, we need to balance this out with positive subjects. Unfortunately, with 24 hour news many stories are emotionalised or sensationalised to keep the watcher or reader gripped and unnecessarily putting too much emphasis on the entertainment of certain stories rather than an unbiased, constructive type of journalism.

Psychological research has shown that people who are subjected to a range of negative news stories were found to have an increase in anxiety and slight depression. The affect that negative stories have can potentially heighten a range of personal concerns even though they are not specifically relevant to the content of the story itself.

So what should we do? I’m not saying we should avoid news altogether (although this has been done by many people) but perhaps we should lessen the amount of time we spend reading or watching negative news items.

Be aware of how much of the news is unnecessarily negative. Be mindful when taking in the news  – ask yourself, is this something I need to know? If not, stop and move on. Be aware of unnecessary sensational and over-emotional stories because we don’t want people playing on our fears or emotions – it’s just non-essential to our well-being.

Cut down on the amount you are exposed to. If there’s something important that you need to know about don’t worry, you’ll find out about it. Otherwise maybe try and cut down on the amount you read or watch. Just catching up quickly in the morning over breakfast may be all you need.

Weed out the positive news items. If you’re reading something, try and focus just on the positive stories – try reading the sports pages first as they tend to be more on the positive side!

Read a positive publication. There’re some wonderful publications out there that just focus on positive news. Positive News is a great website that reports on science, environment, economic and lifestyle topics that are all written with constructive journalism. They even have a print edition if you’re that way inclined! Sunny Skyz and Good News Network are other great websites that emphasises positive stories. I’m not saying this is a way of getting hard-hitting stories but exposing yourself to a more positive element of news will definitely help balance out your perception of the world.

So why not try it out? To be honest, we probably aren’t even aware how much the news affects us on a daily basis and how much it lowers our vibration and ultimately our happiness. We want to keep a positive mindset as much as we can so at the very least, start your day with a happy news story and end your day with one too 🙂

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Why Negative Emotions are Crucial For Happiness

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It’s okay to not be okay. I wanted to write this post because I didn’t want people to read my blog and think that I believe life should be all about sunshine, roses and rainbows and that we should somehow all be experiencing extreme joy every day and anything less is not good enough. No.

Negative emotions are essential for our mental well-being and overall happiness. 

Positive emotions are obviously crucial for us to lead a brighter life but we all have days when we don’t feel great. Life cruelly throws us into the rubbish dump sometimes and it’s important to understand the complexities that comes with being human – that hard times are inevitable as well as the happy times. It helps us make sense of life’s ups and downs and evaluate our experiences.

Scientifically, negative emotions can be vital clues to a health issue, a bad relationship or something in our life that requires our attention. The importance is to notice these emotions and not judge ourselves for them. They are there to help us and the key is to notice them and realign accordingly.

Prolonged negative emotions are telling us that we need to do something – something is not right and essentially needs fixing whether it’s something deep-rooted like a bad past experience we haven’t dealt with or something simple like taking steps to find a new job if you’re unhappy with your current one.

So never suppress negative emotions. Make sure you feel them and identify what they are trying to tell you without rushing to change your emotional state. Confide in other people, exercise, breathe slowly and deeply, and accept it. If the discomfort lingers then consider taking steps to change your circumstances or confronting the person/situation that is causing you the negative feelings.

Sometimes we just get used to feeling negatively and it becomes an everyday habit. It’s important to notice the difference between that and a more serious problem. We tend to accept our ongoing negative mindset because that is what we’ve got used to and it’s in this instance that we need to make a shift and to simply change that to a more positive perspective.

For times that are more trying, pulling on your positive resources can work wonders and can get you out of a funk but be kind to yourself and don’t force it. Let yourself ride it out and don’t suppress anything. Sometimes it’ll pass quickly and other times it’ll take much longer. The key is being able to see your problems with greater clarity and start taking those steps down the path to recovery 🙂